A great kitchen garden depends on a delicate balance, hovering between “organized” and “chaos.” No matter how decadent the top half is, a grid of sharp lines keeps an edible garden organized at the base.
Problem: You want an abundant, productive kitchen garden that isn’t a mess.
Solution: Use permanent landscape edging.
Photography by Jim Powell, for Gardenista.
Everedge has a stand every year at the Chelsea Flower Show (which is where we spotted the landscape edging), with people buzzing around, talking about wish lists. When garden owners install professional edging they always point it out, partly because it can be eye-wateringly expensive but also because crisp edges make people happy.
In a lawn, flowers form part of a green tapestry, rarely finding expression unless that lawn is allowed to grow into a meadow. In the case of this newly dug vegetable garden, they quickly sent out runners over tended, fertile soil. Creeping buttercup, clover, and pea-like black medick have a talent for this.
Assuming that you have decided not to trim vegetable beds with snail-harboring boxwood (which also uses up valuable space and nutrients while blocking air flow), the effect of a prepared bed will be neat and sparse for a short time. As plants fill out, so the edges become fuzzy unless they are trimmed every time the lawn is mowed.
It is a fact that a garden that is open to the public stands or falls on the sharpness of its edging. Grand gardens used to rely on strips of steel to keep grass off the paths but, like teams of gardeners, this has become archaic. About 20 years ago, engineer Richard Hall investigated the idea of using a thinner gauge of steel, since the need for labor-saving efficiency was perhaps greater than ever. His solution was a a powder-coated galvanized steel that is half an inch thick and perfectly pliable.
Like a dry stone wall, the bare bones of a garden are important to get right, even more so when all is bare in winter. When ordering edging which is bespoke, try not to measure a bed when the edges have gone blurry with creeping buttercup, as you will underestimate the size.
N.B.: Kendra solves more pesky problems: